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Captain's Blog. Nov 10, 2011

posted Nov 10, 2011, 5:56 PM by April Fountain

Wednesday night in the Northern  Group of the Cook Islands  finds Kwai tethered to the reef off the village of Tukao at the northern end of Manihiki.   There is no pass into the lagoon for ships of any size here.  Even the outboards have to tilt up to get in and out.  And the depths are too deep for at any distance from the reef.  So the Island Council here keeps a 200m length of yellow polypropylene  line which they float out to visiting vessels.  The shore end is made fast to a hole in the reef and the ship relies on the trade wind to keep her off.  We only stay here at night in stable trade wind conditions and always with a close eye out for any change in conditions.   

This morning we arrived in Rakahanga after a leisurely 36 hour sail from Penrhyn.   This is one of our few downwind legs and she made the passage with the mainsail and topsail swung out all the way.   The tripod mast on Kwai allows the gaff to reach almost perpindicular to the fore and aft line of the ship.  This approaches the angle of a yard and allows us to run before the wind somewhat efficiently.  The weather was squally Easterlies and we shut down the engine a couple of times.  We are also sailing in the company of Orongo, a small fishing boat which has been chartered for bird counting work in the Northern Group.  They had some engine problems and Captain Ian asked us to follow us along to Aitutaki.  We have a towing bridles set up on the bow of Orongo and our stern and our 600' 1.1/2" nylon towing line on deck in case we have to take her in tow.  So far all has been smooth.  But the 500 mile passage to Aitutaki is still ahead. 

Kwai's stop in Penrhyn was the now usual event.  As some of you  know that may have followed the website and our past voyages, we go inside the lagoon and tie up at an old World War Two dock.   That way  the customers and public have full access to the ship. 
We delivered 44 drums of petrol and several tons of ordered goods on Saturday and then sold from the Scope Limited store on Monday.  Sunday is a full day of rest on Penrhyn and this was a "White Sunday" when all the members wear white to church.  As always the singing was fantastic. 


 Penrhyn is renowned for its choir singing, regularly winning country wide competitions.  The hymns are standard, all sung in Cook Islands Maori, but the arrangements are done locally and the harmonies wonderful.  Polynesion chant is often incorporated smoothly.  Church is not the only place to hear the songs.  A non stop cycle of competitions carry on throughout the year on Penrhyn.  On the wharf to say good bye, Tata, the presiding Minister gave us a prayer and the islanders, young and old, all knowing their parts, sang us a moving good bye song. 

Before Penrhyn we had a fine passage from Christmas Island covering the 650 miles in 4.1/2 days.  Beam and just abaft the beam trade winds prevailed.  King Neptune made a brief visit when he smelled a couple of pollywogs.  They turned out to be 2 very unsuspecting  I-Kiribati, one crew Tetaake, and Betiano, a 17 year old working his passage to his family in Rarotonga. 

We are finally back on some semblance of a schedule after the long delay in Honolulu and time waiting for the wharf in Christmas Island.  ETA Raro is 16 November.  We have 9 more passengers from Manihiki, in addition to the 2 form Penrhyn and 4 from Rakahanga.   They will be camping on the hatch under our awning,  hoping  for a quiet ride to  Rarotonga with a brief stop in Aitutaki.

Aloha/Tiabo
Captain Brad